MarTech Interview with Ramon Kania, Chief Technology Officer at Mitto

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Customer expectations have evolved over the years and more so during the Covid-19 pandemic; Ramon Kania, Chief Technology Officer at Mitto shares some industry observations and trends:

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Welcome to this martech chat Ramon…tell us more about Mitto and its growth journey over the last few years and especially newest innovations!

Thank you for having me! Mitto is a leading provider of global omnichannel communications solutions. To put it simply, we help brands reach every customer with real-time digital communications on their favorite channels. Mitto began as a collaboration between a small team of telcomm experts and grew into a powerful force that now ensures best-in-class A2P messaging services for the largest brands in the world. 

Mitto is constantly innovating to meet the evolving needs, habits and behaviors of today’s consumers who are demanding more transparent and accessible touchpoints with their brands. With that in mind, we recently added Google Business Messages to our platform to enable brands to communicate directly within Google Search or Maps. With 93% of online experiences starting within a search engine, this provides a clear and early touch point for brands. 

We also launched Mitto Conversations, a new solution that empowers brands to streamline omnichannel communications. By efficiently managing two-way messaging across platforms such as SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, brands can engage in rich and secure conversations with their customers. With security top of mind, Mitto also added Verified SMS to the platform in order to empower brands to establish trustworthy SMS communications. This works by authenticating the sender so the customer can understand that the information is real and secure. Mitto can be found wherever brand customers are, including additional channels such as Viber and Telegram. 

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How are you seeing digital interaction trends change today and what are some key expectations from the customer today that are redefining the way tech innovators are being challenged to meet new needs?

The COVID-19 pandemic absolutely changed the way consumers and brands interact with each other. Today’s consumer expectations are drastically different from where they were before the pandemic. Back in 2019 or even early 2020, some brands could get away with a more leisurely digital communications strategy (by not engaging on all channels or not prioritizing personalization), but 2020-21 has required brand communications to be consistently fast and convenient all while meeting customers where they are – which is everywhere!

A survey Mitto conducted in March found that 78% of global consumers increased their brand communication expectations during the pandemic and 56% were also concerned that brands may go back to their old ways and not put as much effort into improving digital customer experience (CX) once the pandemic has subsided. With 59% of consumers reporting that their expectations will continue to rise, it is vital that brands focus on interacting with consumers on all digital channels – from social media to chat apps and SMS – in order to provide the best experience possible and meet those rising expectations.

How can brands enhance their digital experience and journey for customers without crowding their customer’s space with too much marketing and information? 

Customers want information, but each may want it provided in a different way; some may prefer to interact with a brand via Google Business Messages and others may be partial to SMS. It all depends on whichever channel they feel most comfortable with. What’s important is that brands meet their customers where they already are and on their preferred channel. This allows brands to ensure that customers are as comfortable as can be and are able to get their questions answered in a timely and convenient manner.  

Similarly, personalization is a given in 2021, as 80% of consumers are expecting personalized experiences from each brand that they interact with – from being sent specific sales materials that connect with their past purchases to brands knowing who they actually are when they’re talking to customer service. Honesty and transparency are also more important than ever before and many consumers are looking for this over simple promotions in their interactions with brands. 73% of consumers are even willing to pay more for a product if that means they receive full transparency from the company.

A few predictions in mind for the future of digital journeys and how they will evolve?

The pandemic forced the world to shift to contactless experiences and this new normal is 100% here to stay. The shift to mobile-first strategies supported a contactless reality that consumers were craving during the pandemic including payments, ordering online, coordinating interaction-free pickups and checkouts. This convenience is not going anywhere and online shopping will just continue to rise, with online sales increasing by 48% just in January 2021.

McKinsey also found that more than half of users reported an intent to continue their new online behaviors even post COVID-19. With this knowledge, marketers will continue to leverage additional digital strategies and messaging to drive contactless forward for everything from delivering brand experiences and preventing fraudulent payments to sharing exclusive subscriber deals.

Once the worldwide pandemic is more under control in most places, how do you feel marketers will have to focus on recreating the typical drive brand experience and brand engagement in a post pandemic world?

I don’t believe that consumers or brands will ever fully go back to how things were pre-COVID. The pandemic has changed so many aspects of the brand-consumer experience that both sides have had to evolve the ways in which they interact with each other. Brands now fully understand how important digital communications are in customer experience and are not going to do away with this knowledge. In fact, Mitto found that 90% of marketers are planning to take ownership of CX moving forward, with two-thirds expecting the increase in digital comms to better drive customer engagement.

Not only has the way brands interact with consumers changed, but also what they communicate about will continue to evolve and solidify as we move past COVID. No longer do brands solely share sale information to prospective customers; instead, nearly half are looking to establish more meaningful connections with their customers. This more personalized relationship will not revert back to how it was pre-COVID and as we move forward, these brand relationships and loyalties will become even deeper.

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A few predictions that you have for the future of martech as a whole? Can you talk about some top martech providers you have been following in the recent years from the global market and why you find them innovative?

I predict that customers will only engage with the brands that they trust. Trust will be especially important in the coming years with the continued rise in phishing scams that have plagued the COVID-19 pandemic, including fraudulent vaccine text messages. As consumers will likely be more apprehensive before trusting the information they receive, it is now even more important for brands to implement tech that enables brands to prove they are who they appear to be, bringing consumers more peace of mind and a better relationship with brands. In the future, marketers must build consumer trust through methods including verified SMS, two-factor authentication, and personalization. 

Some martech providers I’ve been watching recently are marketing automation platforms and CRMs that offer up easy to deploy omnichannel solutions that also have deep analytics to understand both messaging and the channels that are resonating for each target segment. Not all companies are implementing technology like this and they need to be in order to stay competitive and innovative.

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CMOs/CEOs in 2021: top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year, innovate and expand their teams?

One of my main takeaways for marketers and executives is to try your best not to lose the customer loyalty and new relationships you gained during the pandemic. Don’t go back to your old ways because consumers are expecting the same level of service and conveniences they’ve had for the past year and, as our research shows, brands generally knocked it out of the park in doing so. 

Your customers are looking for brands who will provide a human touch, whether that’s through innovative technology like chat apps (that can actually answer their questions) or by making them feel valued. One of the best ways we’ve found for brands to highlight customer value is by showing them they understand both their needs and preferences – including what is easiest for them when it comes to digital communications. In fact, we conducted a recent study with some of the top marketers at American B2C enterprises and the main note that I keep coming back to is that 75% of them mentioned that SMS as a channel performs better than any channel they use or have used in the past. I find that pretty compelling, so my advice to marketers is to make sure you have an SMS strategy that will help you create and keep that customer loyalty.

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Mitto is a leading provider of global, omnichannel communications solutions, supporting business growth with advanced customer engagement technology and messaging enablement. Offering easy-to-integrate SMS, Voice, and Chat App APIs, next-generation business messaging, and end-to-end phone number management, Mitto’s platform ensures the world’s largest brands and MNOs are ready for what’s next. 

 

As CTO of Mitto, Ramon is responsible for the technology that makes the Mitto digital communications platform the most reliable and cost-effective in the industry. Ramon has been coding since the age of 11 and has decades of experience designing and developing disruptive systems. Prior to joining Mitto, Ramon worked on the technologies that power public transportation systems in Germany including electronic crew scheduling, live vehicle observing, payroll accounting and data analytics.

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